I wrote at length about what it’s like to be a woman travelling solo here but I also want to peek behind the curtain to expose a few further truths. As more and more women take to travelling the world alone, it’s important to open the experience up to even more of us!
The big secret: You won’t really be alone
Just because you get on a plane alone or travel solo to your hostel, does not mean you will be alone. You will almost constantly be with people, unless you don’t want to be. Dorms (whether mixed or female only) are great ways to meet other travellers. Tours and trips are other cool ways to meet like-minded people. I’ve met people on planes, in restaurants, bars and just walking around. As many people are alone, they are open to forming instant friendships. Some of these are transient and others last beyond the trip!
Sometimes you will feel lonely and homesick
Travel is wonderful and when you look at slick, photoshopped images, it’s hard to imagine that there can be difficult days. As with all things, you can have your down days even when travelling on the trip of a lifetime. Being far away from home can be exhilarating but there are times when it can feel lonely and you will get pangs of homesickness, especially if big things are happening back home that you can’t be a part of. It’s all part of the ride.
You may have a holiday romance
One of the coolest things about solo travel if you’re single is that you may have a holiday romance or even find true love. As people tend to be more open, friendly and adventurous when they are travelling, you can easily make friends and develop crushes. The potential for intriguing affairs, whether temporary or permanent is part of the travel package.
You’ll get to know yourself better
People talk about ‘finding themselves’ when they travel, and although it sounds contrived, I do think it’s true. Any experience that pushes you out of your comfort zone and gives you time to reflect and act reveals core truths about who you are. There are few times in life when we have the time and space to simply create and when people take a gap year or even month, they are giving themselves that little patch of soil in which to plant.
For women, I find travel encourages independence, adventurousness and self-acceptance. The word empowering feels a little overused, but I do think it works well to explain the experience of travelling alone as a woman.
You’ll need to be brave
Doing anything alone requires bravery and I think this is true of travel. If you don’t have anyone to fall back on, you need to be your own cheerleader. As above, you won’t TRULY be alone, but there may be moments, such as getting on the plane or taking that taxi when you are and the best way to manage the moment is to bite the bullet and be brave.
You’ll be out of your comfort zone
When I read ‘Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway’ one of the lessons that stuck with me was that growth only occurs outside of our comfort zone. Our comfort zone is cosy, secure and safe and it’s vital to have one but to develop and prosper we need to leave it from time to time and be okay with leaving it. You can enjoy travel even by staying in your hostel, going to English-speaking restaurants and doing a few tried and tested tours, but you can expand the experience by leaving your comfort zone and doing something unexpected and I’d actively encourage this.
You have the chance to make a difference
Travelling is not just about lying on a beach, drinking too much and sampling the local Pad Thai, it also gives you the opportunity to make a difference, a difference to your own life and the life’s of others.
Put some time towards volunteering, learn the language, take a cooking class, learn the local customs…just participate in as much as you can.
The world isn’t out to get you
When we talk about women travelling alone, there’s lots of scaremongering and yes women do need to take precautions and be aware of our safety, but the world is not a big, bad wolf that wants to get you at every turn and this perception can damage women’s ability to go out into the world and do things independently. If you take responsibility and remain aware, the world is largely a very safe place.
If I can’t speak the local language, I shouldn’t go there
Speaking the local language is great, and if you can, do! If you can’t, don’t be deterred. Many countries are geared up for English speakers which is a great perk and privilege for us, but you can also use dictionaries and translation guides. You can also use translation apps like iTranslate.
Doing things alone is scary and/or boring
I totally disagree with this one. Doing things alone is great. It builds your self-esteem, self-confidence and character. If you can do things with people, that’s awesome too in a totally different way but what if no-one else wants to do what you want to do? Are you just not going to do it? Embracing doing things alone when you can is rewarding and valuable.
ANYONE CAN DO IT!
People think that solo travel is something that other people do but that it’s not for them. Newsflash: It’s for everyone. It’s not as scary as it seems and once you do it, you’ll be hooked.
All my love